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Friday, July 13, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Sierra Nevada's Hazy Little Thing IPA

by Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and welcome to another Feature Beer Friday!  I hope you all enjoyed the NOLA Magical Brewery Beer Bus Tour recap last week, and I hope to include more event recaps in the future, but this week it's back to a beer review.  We're smack dab in the middle of Summer now, so while browsing the beer selection at my local store of choice recently I saw some of the Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA... alright, sounds like a good refreshing but not over the top brew.  After checking the date (this 6-pack was brewed on 5/31/18) I added it to my cart, and now it's a feature beer here on the internet.

A little about Sierra Nevada... they are one of the grandfathers of the modern craft beer movement, starting from homebrewer Ken Grossman's homebrew store and opening in 1980 as a craft brewery.  Their standard Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was one of the three flagships and is often credited as the beer that really launched America's craft beer revolution.  The other two flagships, the Sierra Nevada Stout and Porter are still in production today as well, with largely unchanged recipes, but one thing that has led Sierra Nevada to thrive is their commitment to adapt to trends and styles, which is why you'll see them jumping on board the "haze craze" and putting out a beer like "Hazy Little Thing" when other established breweries might scoff at the idea of a hazy IPA. 


Sierra Nevada's Hazy Little IPA
Sierra Nevada's Hazy Little IPA


So, on to the beer... this is a new release from Sierra Nevada, they describe it as an "unfiltered, unprocessed IPA, straight from the tanks and into the can."  It's 6.7% abv, with 40 IBU, bittered with Magnum hops and finished with Citra, Comet, Simcoe, El Dorado, and Mosaic.  I'm not too familiar with Comet, but I am a huge fan of the other four, and would expect this to give a very complex hop character instead of a one-note citrus bomb. 

The pour is expectedly hazy... a little darker than some I've tried recently with more of an orange and gold color and a very bubbly head.  The aroma is a combination of grapefruit and dank notes, with the dank coming through a little stronger.  The taste is a lot of the same, with a combination of citrus, herbal, dank, and piney characters that create a fascinating departure from the hazy IPAs I've been drinking recently.  There's also a little more of a bitter finish, which I really enjoy and I find can be missing sometimes from the new-school NEIPAs.  

In all, excellent effort from Sierra Nevada on this one to blend some of the characteristics that we're used to seeing in a hazy IPA with some of the characteristics that we're used to seeing in a West Coast IPA.  It makes for an outstanding refreshing Summer beer option, or really any time of year.  Cheers! 


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Burgers With Chuck: Building Dreams at Burgersmith

by Chuck P

My love for crazy burger combinations isn’t a secret. Even though nothing beats a good ol’ fashioned classic burger, sometimes throwing on insane ingredients to create the ultimate Frankenstein of burger creations is just a fun and delicious thing to do.

On a recent trip to the OG Burgersmith in Lafayette, Jay and I were tasked with the challenge of each creating our own special burger for a social media video they were doing on Facebook. Jay and I are not known for turning down a food challenge, so we gladly accepted. But we’re not here to discuss Jay’s burger baby. I’m here to bring a completely absurd spectacle of gluttony, deliciousness and eventually, complete misery to life! *Thunder claps*

Ladies and gents, I give you the Chuck P Ballpark Burger:



Look at that beast of a sandwich. It’s beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. What would lead someone to even begin to imagine such a culinary artery clogger? Basically, I’m a glutton for punishment. I wonder what the kitchen staffs’ faces look like when my order comes in...

My burger is pretty easy to figure out. It’s everything you’d find at a baseball game piled on to one big monster of a burger. I started with the classic Smith patty and a slice of American cheese. From there, I added their signature hot dog cut right down the middle and placed on top. To top it off, I smothered it all with chili cheese fries and stuck it all in the middle of two pretzel buns. If only I could have added nachos somewhere on there...

Logistically, trying to eat this thing as a burger is a sloppy nightmare. It quickly turned into a fork and knife meal. As tasty as everything was, this eventually turned into one of my not so classic Chuck P creations. Even I have to admit defeat sometimes.

If you’re feeling adventurous then head over to Burgersmith and order this beast for yourself. Just remember to have a knife and fork at the ready...and napkins, lots of napkins.

Check out the mastermind behind the burgers in the podcast recorded at Burgersmith in Lafayette:

Friday, July 6, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: New Orleans Beer Tour Edition - Wayward Owl, Port Orleans, NOLA, Urban South

By Eric Ducote

Greeting beer lovers!  This past weekend I had the opportunity to join Jay Ducote, Matt Moscona, and Lee Feinswog on a Magical Brewery Beer Bus Tour of four New Orleans breweries.  The itinerary was set out as leaving from Tin Roof in Baton Rouge, then hitting up Wayward Owl, Port Orleans, NOLA Brewing, and Urban South prior to making out way back to Baton Rouge.  I have been to NOLA and Urban South a few times before, but I had never been to Wayward Owl or to Port Orleans, so when Jay gave me the invite I was happy to accept.  

The bus loaded up at Tin Roof, who was gracious enough to give us some low fills for the road, and the group (43 strong) made our way to I-10 East a few minutes ahead of schedule.  The tour package included two beers at each stop for everyone, but we were of course free to purchase additional beers and food along the way.  


Tin Roof for the ride.


Third Row representing!

Traffic was light for a late Saturday morning and we ended up rolling up to Wayward Owl a few minutes ahead of our anticipated arrival.  They were kind enough to open up early just for our tour and the drinking commenced!  Wayward Owl is a new stop for me, and my first impression was that they did a really excellent job with the space, an old theater that is now serving as both brewery and taproom.  I tried several beers here, including the You Drive Me Hazy DIPA, the Dance Between The Darkness Imperial Stout, and the Hopsurdity DIPA.  Probably not the best idea to start the tour with three beers over 7% abv, but these were the ones I really wanted to try!  


Wayward Owl's beer menu for the day.

Wayward Owl's space was originally the Gem Theater.

After a few rounds at Wayward Owl and a tour courtesy of Brewmaster Justin, it was off to Port Orleans, a relatively new brewery on Tchoupitoulas between Milan and Marengo.  This brewery is gorgeous, with a clean stylish taproom build out, an ample front porch with outdoor seating, and a large patio to one side with picnic tables and yard games.  It was too hot for anyone to really enjoy the outdoor spaces, but I know once Fall rolls around and the weather cools down, this place will be jumping indoors and out.  Being a bit of a hop lover I went for the Partly Cloudy With A Chance For Hops first, then moved on to a Blowout DDH IPA.  Of these two I preferred the Blowout, but the real hit was the third beer I tried, pour of their Barrel-Aged Offshore Chocolate Imperial Stout.  That one hit all the right notes with the richness of the stout, chocolate notes, and a boozy oaky vanilla flavor from the barrel aging.  


Port Orleans Brewing Company and Stokehold Restaurant.

Port Orleans' taproom.


The Port Orleans side patio, too hot for a crowd today.

Port Orleans is also home to the Stokehold restaurant, and some food was much needed.  After a quick browse I decided to get some mozzarella stuffed garlic bread to split with Jay, and it was amazing.  It was an excellent combination of buttery dough, garlic, mozzarella cheese, and a marinara for dipping.  This is without a doubt one of the best taproom food items I've ever tried, and I would probably order it again the next time I'm here.  


Mozzarella stuffed garlic bread from Stokehold and the Blowout DDH IPA.

After Port Orleans it was time for a quick jaunt just under a mile down Tchoupitoulas to NOLA Brewing, the elder statesman of the craft brewing renaissance in New Orleans.  I was especially excited to get to NOLA as I had heard great things about the No Strings Attached NEIPA that released last weekend.  It did not disappoint at all, hazy, juicy, hoppy and checking off every mark for a great NEIPA.  I also tried a Twins Basil, Twins! (that's an Austin Powers reference in case you missed it) which is a mixed fermentation sour with citrus and basil.  Although I did enjoy it, it was a little on the tart side for my tastes. 


NOLA Brewing Company

Like Port Orleans, NOLA also has a restaurant on premise, in this case McClure's BBQ, so Jay ordered up a BBQ sampler to split and we enjoyed some excellent ribs, brisket, chopped chicken, and pulled pork with some sides of macaroni and cheese and seasoned waffle fries.  Everything was delicious, but I think the baked mac & cheese stole the show a bit from the meats.  


The BBQ plate from McClure's and most of a No Strings Attached NEIPA.

After that bite and a crowler snag, it was time to continue another short distance down Tchoupitoulas to Urban South Brewery, a brewery making waves for itself with flavorful gose style ales and phenomenal NEIPA releases to go with their flagships.  Just like NOLA, Urban South released a hyped NEIPA the week before, so I was excited to get in and try some of the Soulstice, a collaboration with Parleaux Beer Lab.  Just like the No Strings Attached, this did not disappoint.  I finished off the evening with a Suitcase Full Of Sparks and then decided it was time to switch to water for the ride home, but not before snagging another crowler for later!


Urban South Brewery


Urban South's taproom was jumping this Saturday afternoon.

After a ride home full of Matt Moscona give-aways, it was back to Tin Roof and then back home, heavy a few crowlers and a souvenir glass.  


A couple of beers for later.


Souvenir glassware, never a bad thing! 

This was a really great time, I enjoyed hanging out with Jay, Matt, and Lee, and of course it was fantastic to see some new breweries and try some new beers all while having transportation taken care of.  There are plans for a repeat event in early 2019, so be on the lookout, and grab your spot before they are gone!  

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Nevada H&C Distilling Smoke Wagon Bourbon

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and a happy 4th of July to you all!  Today we celebrate, our Independence Day, and I prefer to start out that celebration with a little wakey whiskey (hashtag wakeywhiskey) before I get into the BBQ and beer.  My lovely wife Mandi recently made a trip out to Las Vegas and she was awesome enough to bring back a bottle of whiskey for me, so that's my selection for this morning.  This is the Smoke Wagon Private Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Nevada H&C Distilling Co.  They actually source their bourbon from Indiana (not uncommon), but my understanding is that they do all of the barrel aging and blending in house in Las Vegas, in addition to distilling vodka.  

Nevada H&C Smoke Wagon Private Barrel

This particular bottle is one that they aged for 10 years in a private barrel release for the Total Wine & Spirits near where my mother in law lives.  It's bottled at barrel strength, in this case 56.7% which equates to 113.4 proof.  Although not necessarily THIS barrel, their private barrel series won a double gold medal at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.  In addition to the private barrel line, Nevada H&C puts out an Uncut and Unfiltered version which is basically a barrel strength bourbon but blended from several vintages of barrel instead of being a single barrel.  They also put out a Small Batch rye-heavy bourbon at 100 proof and the aforementioned Silver Dollar American Vodka.

Enough about the company though, how's the bourbon?  My initial thought was that this is a little on the harsh side, but it is a high proof bourbon, so I added an ice sphere (they ever recommend it on their website) and the whiskey opened up to me.  Once that little bit of chill and water was introduced the bourbon started really showing strong oak, vanilla, and chocolate notes, and the harshness turned into a pleasant alcohol presence.  It's amazing to me how some whiskeys can taste watered down while others really open up, but the main thing I think is just drink it however you like it the best.  

Cheers to you all, and I hope everyone has a fantastic 4th of July!